Physalis, the tasty and appealing fruit

Physalis peruviana is the official name of the fruit with origins in South America, and we still call it Inca Cata. It is good that this fruit is not to be confused with its relatives growing in the forests or on the roadside, all sorts of physalis, but which only have a decorative role being toxic in the rest.

Peruvian Physalis is considered to be one of the most tasty fruits in the world. Like his relatives, the edible fruit has orange color and is covered with a crepe like crepe paper that looks like a Chinese lantern.

What nutrients contain physalis and what benefits brings to our body?

Physalis is a sought after fruit for the contained substances. It is a fruit rich in B vitamins, B12 being rarely found in other plants. Physalis also has recognized vitamin P for its anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-viral properties. These fruits also contain vitamin A, and the amount of vitamin C is double that of lemon. Physalis fruits have high protein content, about 16%, calcium, iron, phosphorus, sugars. Rich in carotenoids and polysaccharides, these fruits help improve the immune system. Also pisalis fruit contains 18 amino acids and all 8 essential amino acids.

Melatonin from fruit prevents neurodegenerative diseases in the elderly. This fruit is also used in the treatment / prevention of cancer, leukemia, rheumatism, asthma, malaria, hepatitis, dermatitis, renal lithiasis or gout.

When can I bring the fruit into the baby’s diet?

As an exotic fruit, Physalis can cause allergies to sensitive babies, so it is recommended to be placed in food after the age of 1 year. As with any new fruit introduced into the baby’s diet, it is advisable to consult a pediatrician and follow the 4-day rule.

How do I choose and how do I give this fruit to the child?

The Physalis fruit resembles a cherry red, but the color is orange. The fruit is also protected by a cover that looks like the crepe paper, giving the fruit the shape of a Chinese lantern. After removing the coating, the fresh fruit has a glossy shell.

Physalis can be eaten fresh or dry. The taste is bitter-like, and in dry form it resembles the lemon sherbet.

Inca is used as such or in various combinations in smoothies, jam, cakes, fruit salads. Dry Physalis can also be added to cereals.

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Carmine (E120) – is this a natural food colorant?

We continue the serial articles “Ingredients That We keep away from”! This time, is about one of the most common ingredients we find in shelf food. The natural carmine dye or the E120!

He offers a red, purple or pink color to juices, sweets, dairy products, sausages, medicines and other colorful foods.

What is carmine (E120)?

Carmine is a natural dietary color. It is (as one of its names calls it) extracted from a species of beetles, called cochineal or Dactylopius coccus/Coccus cactus. The insect is native to South America and lives on certain varieties of cactus. The carmine dye is made from the powder obtained by crushing the female of this species after it has been previously drowned, then dried. To produce 250 g of carmine, about 70,000 insects are needed.

People used carmine dyes since ancient times for dyeing textiles, but now we can find them in the food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals industry.

What are the effects of carmine (E120)?

The information is contradictory around the subject. Some sources say that E120 is not a dangerous additive, being on the list of additives approved by the European Union and the FDA (Federal Drug Administration, USA). Other sources say the E120 is responsible for a series of allergic reactions such as rhinitis, asthma, contact dermatitis.

It is not recommended for children, as it may cause hyperactivity (and this is mentioned on some labels).

In 2012, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) replaced carmine in pharmaceutical products with a colorant of plant origin.

People who have adopted the vegan regime or members of certain religious communities for moral and spiritual reasons should not eat such products containing carmine (E120).

How do we keep away from carmine?

Reading the Label! In other words, we also find E120 under the name of carmine, carminic acid, cochineal or even natural red 4.

We keep away from carmine avoiding packed products as much as possible and, of course, replacing them with home-made foods from natural ingredients.

You can color your home-made dishes (including desserts and drinks) using vegetal colors. You can use beet juice, fruit juice, carrot juice, turmeric (curcuma), spinach.

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Black rice, longevity rice

Having a pleasant taste and being full of nutrients, in ancient China black rice was consumed only by noblemen, who forbade their consumption by ordinary people. He was called ‘forbidden rice’, ‘longevity rice’ or ‘immortal food’. Recent studies prove that the old Chinese were not too far from the truth because it has been discovered that this type of rice has multiple benefits for health, prevention and treatment of serious conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, asthma or Alzheimer’s disease.

What nutrients does it contain?

It is rich in antioxidants called anthocyanins, preventing free radical formation, slowing down aging and preventing disease. “A spoonful of black rice contains more anthocyanin antioxidants than the same amount of blueberries, but much less sugar and more vitamin E and fiber than these. If blueberries are effective in maintaining good health, why not this rice too? “Zhimin Xu, a professor at the Louisiana University of the United States, said in a press release.

Also contains other important minerals for health, such as iron, calcium, copper, zinc, selenium but also B vitamins (B1 and B2 above all). Contains proteins and an important amount of essential amino acids.

Due to its properties, black rice is a natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and the extract helps prevent the formation of arteriosclerotic plaques in the heart’s arteries.

Moreover, regularly consumed, it prevents heart attack, reduces the level of lipids and triglycerides in the body, the latter being risk factors for stroke and heart disease.

Black rice extract also helps reduce cholesterol. Consuming a portion every day could lead to strengthening the bone and muscle system, energizing the body and prolonging the body’s youth.

At the same time, helps to improve memory and fluidize blood circulation. It is recommended to include it in the diet of those who suffer from diabetes.

What do we choose: brown or black version?

Brown rice with a minimum fat content is a good provider of protein, vitamin E and B complex vitamins, but contains low amounts of vitamins like C, A or B12. In terms of antioxidants, black rice surpasses brown rice. When processing the latter, the dark layer is removed, the rice grain remaining almost white, while the black type is marketed offset.

When can I enter it into the baby’s diet?

Black rice can be introduced into a diversified diet after the age of 8 months. Because it does not contain gluten, is very well tolerated by babies. However, our recommendation is to consult your baby’s pediatrician before introducing black rice into a diversified diet and adhering to the 4-day rule.

How is it prepared?

Black rice is black when it is natural, but it gets a purple color when cooked. It has a pleasant smell and it can be boiled, prepared in porridge, or it can be used as a base – in the flour version – for desserts.

Indications for boiling: After moisturizing (preferably 12 hours) boil (1 part rice to 3 parts water) for 20 minutes, but it is good to check to avoid overproduction because you risk you lose important nutrients.

For desserts, rice is generally used in combination with coconut milk, sugar (for older children) and water to form a sweet pudding. It can also be eaten at breakfast. If you prepare it together with other foods, keep in mind that strong pigments color the other ingredients.

Even if you are not a milled rice consumer, you will fall in love with this range, with visible health benefits.

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Asparagus, a royal vegetable

Asparagus (Asparagus) is part of the herbaceous family with fleshy roots and undeveloped leaves. It grows best in Mediterranean areas on light, sandy soil. His season is April to July.
It is considered a “royal vegetable” or “luxury vegetable” and is very popular in countries like the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Switzerland.

Which nutrients contain asparagus?

Being a rich source of folic acid (some asparagus stalks account for 22% of the daily requirement), asparagus protects the body against cancer, reduces pain, reduces the risk of heart disease, and prevents birth defects (if consumed by pregnant women).

Vitamin K containing asparagus prevents osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, helps to form bones and determines the blood clotting process.

Asparagus also contains: Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B1, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, Calcium, Sodium.

When can I put the asparagus into the baby’s diet?

Asparagus can be difficult to digest, so it is recommended to be given to children after the stomach has become accustomed to solid foods, that is, after 9 months.

If your baby has problems with bloating, talk to your doctor before giving him asparagus. It is also recommended that you follow the 4-day rule.

How do you choose and prepare asparagus?

You can find frozen or fresh asparagus. In the case of the fresh one, the stems should be scratch-free, straight and have the same thickness (so that they can be cooked all at once) and the color is green (in Romania green asparagus is the most popular but there is also white or purple, all of which have the same taste).

A little trick to choosing asparagus is to squeeze it in your hand, if it snores, then it’s perfect. If you bend the asparagus, it should break, it should not be elastic. The brighter the bark, the better (if it has a thick bark, it is woody).

Store in a refrigerator for about 3 days, in plastic bags, and in a glass of water. It can freeze, and when you decide to cook it, it boils frozen for 10-15 minutes.

Asparagus should be thoroughly cleaned, so it is recommended to leave it in the water for 30 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. Can be fried and combined with tomatoes, chicken, rice, potatoes.

You can cook:

– Steam: 2-8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the stem
– fry pan (with a little butter) for 3 minutes
– boiled (2-6 minutes): add after the water boils, and when done, the stems dry and then served
– Roasted on the grill: For 1 minute, rinse in water and then through the cold water jet. Heat 2-3 minutes on each side.
– in the oven: place in a tray and sprinkle some vegetable oil. Bake in about 12 minutes.
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Top 3 protein-rich beans

The Fabaceae family, known as legumes, includes beans, peas, chickpeas, leeks, protein rich beans and a healthy alternative to meat.

These are some of the most versatile and nourishing foods. Low in fat, free of cholesterol but rich in folat, potassium, iron and magnesium.

Here are 3 of the legumes with the highest protein content:

Soy is the best source of vegetable protein. One cup of soy beans equates to 29 grams of protein. Only 150 grams of soy provides more than 50% of the daily protein requirement, about 50% of the iron, about 40% of the recommended level of phosphorus and fiber. It also contains all 8 essential amino acids, vitamins B1, B3 and B6 and is rich in calcium and magnesium. Milk and soybean oil are considered the best source of lecithin, which plays an important role in nervous activity. However, soy is not without controversy. Although the findings of the US and UK studies show that there is insufficient information to demonstrate significant improvement in health, nor to demonstrate negative effects. Prudent consumption applies to any food, and given that it is one of the genetically modified crops, it is ideal to choose organic soybeans, being grown from genetically unmodified seeds. Find out more about this legume in the article: Soy, the controversial food of the 2000s

2. Lentils
Lintea is another powerful nutritious legume. Rich in fiber, folate, vitamin B1 and iron, the consumption of lentils provides 18 grams of protein. It contains fat in very small amount but is devoid of cholesterol. By combining cereal flour we get a “complete protein”, that is, we offer our body the proteins it can obtain exclusively from food. The Asian and Mediterranean populations consume regularly, not allowed in vegetarian diets. More about the benefits and the best way to prepare it in the article: Lentils, an important source of protein.

3. Beans
Whether it is black, pinto, green, canellini, classic or white, beans also have a rich protein content, albeit lower than their sisters, soy and linden. However, 13 grams for a bean cup is a significant protein intake. Of all types of beans, the green one has a lower protein content due to the fact that it is not yet mature. The dry bean is rich in antioxidants, starch, protein, and is an excellent source of iron, potassium, potassium, vitamin B6, molybdenum and folic acid. In the article Green beans or dried beans? find out about its benefits as well as about how beans can be introduced into the diverse diet of children.
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Why and how should recycle used cooking oil?

Do you recycle used cooking oil?!

The oil is an indelible ingredient in the kitchen, that we can use in many ways, from sprinkling salads, slices of bread to donuts or spring packs. Although frying is a culinary method that does not have a place in the diet of small children and is avoided even by adults, there are recipes that we want to recreate from time to time. In this situation it is advisable to use oils suitable for roasted foods with a high combustion point. Read more about oil types in the article: Oils and their cooking temperature.

Reasons to recycle waste oil

But what do we do with the oil left after we enjoy our grandmother’s occasional scoffing? Under no circumstances should we throw the used oil into the sink! Here are some reasons why we should selectively collect and recycle used food oil:
• Washed waste oil is deposited on the walls of the sewer system, degrading the pipes and causing undesirable effects such as corrosion of drainage pipes and impediment to the operation of the wastewater treatment plants.
• The maintenance costs of sewage treatment plants, pipes and drainage systems may reach up to five times higher than usual, resulting in an increased cost for the entire community.
• Inappropriate disposal of food oil has a major negative impact on the environment. All forms of life need water to survive, and when the food oil is shed in the public sewer system, it can reach rivers, lakes, having a devastating effect on fish, plants, birds, and more.
• More than that, water cleaning is heavy and costly. Did you know that only one liter of oil contaminates one million liters of water?

How is waste oil used?

The good news is that used food oil can be recycled by specific technologies and reused as an alternative energy source. One liter of waste oil results in approximately 0.90 liters of biodiesel, and to selectively collect and recycle used oil, we have some very easy steps to take:
• Leave the oil in the pot where it was cooked until it has cooled completely. Do not try to dispose of it in another container while it is still hot because there is a risk of serious injuries. When the remaining amount of oil is too small to be poured into another pot, it can be wiped with a napkin and dumped into the garbage.
• Choose a recipe to collect the oil you use. You can use plastic bottles (2 or 5 liters), buckets, or any lid with lid.
• Give the waste oil to environmental organizations. In large cities there are free oil collection programs or companies that pay for higher oil quantities.
• If the donation / recycling of oil is not a viable option, you can throw the oil container in the trash container carefully after carefully wrapping the lid. Enjoy cooking and recycling!

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Aronia, universal remedy

The story of this multi-annual shrub, Aronia melanocarpa, leaves from eastern North America, where it originates. The locals of those places cultivated him over time for his longevity, strength and curative properties. Aronia shrub is part of the Rosaceae family and is recognized under the American names of Black Chokeberry or Redberry.

It was brought by the Russians from America to Europe, it is very resistant to cold, being cultivated even in Siberia. However, the results of scientific research have also contributed to the fame, which have revealed beneficial effects in the treatment of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Due to its properties, the aronia was introduced into the Russian cosmonaut diet in 1959. There are two species of aronia, one with dark fruits (black scorpion) and another with red fruits.

Which nutrients contain?

Aronia contains active substances and other essential ingredients in their natural form, especially polyphenols and vitamins niacin, riboflavin (B2), folic acid, vitamins E, A, K, as well as minerals: potassium, iodine and phosphorus.

Superfruits of aronia have a very high content of antioxidants, much higher than blueberries (15 times larger), cranberry or pomegranates. They have a high content of proanthocyanins (found in grape seeds) and quinic acid (10 times larger than the cranberry)!

Vitamin P content (which helps fix vitamin C in the body) is higher than any other fruit (contains 5 times more vitamin P than grapes). Aronia fruit is a powerful solution against free radicals. The high percentage of polyphenols can reduce oxidative stress.

When can I introduce it into my baby’s diet?

Black poins are not allergenic and do not have contraindications, so they can be offered to the baby at the age of one, like most forest fruits.

As with any new food you enter into the baby’s diet, we advise you to seek advice from your doctor and follow the 4-day rule.

How do I choose and how do I keep aronia?

Aronia grows in mountain areas with wet soil and acid, where it can also be grown. Being resistant to cold, it lasts until late autumn. In trade, these fruits can be found in dehydrated or juice stores.

How to use and eat aronia?

They have bitter and astringent taste. But their freezing is “cut” by their bitter taste (reduces the amount of tannins) and gets a sweeter taste.

Aronia fruit can also be used for cakes, as other berries, smoothies and jams or jams can also be prepared. Also, fruits are extracted a strong pigment that is used in the food industry.

Fruits can easily be dried at home if we dry them on paper in a thin layer. Dried fruits can be rehydrated in the winter and then used just like fresh fruit.

Of the dried fruits can also be tea, but by boiling some of the vitamins will be destroyed. Therefore, the most suitable for the preservation of fruit properties is the aronia juice. If obtained by cold pressing, the aronia juice retains its antioxidant properties and vitamin content. In addition, the juice is advised to be eaten half an hour before a meal, 50 ml three times a day for 20-30 days (vitamin P daily requirement is 50-100 mg) for at most one month.


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Continuing a perfect complementary food scheme

Complementary food is the process by which solid foods are gradually introduced into a child’s diet, thus replacing his milk tables over time.

Taking into account the new food pyramid at the base of which vegetables and fruit have been in recent years, the recommendation is to start with the introduction of vegetables or lunch.

The perfect complementary food scheme is a good start and easy to follow for at least 1 month from the moment you begin diversification. All that I recommend is to keep in mind the 4-day rule, to keep up with the child’s acceptance rate and to consult with a medical pediatrician.

Due to the many questions I have been asked about the continuation of the diversification scheme, in this article I will tell you how I did the following 2 meals a day, the table of fruits (morning meal) and the cereal meal (evening meal).

What fruits can I give my baby? First, choose the fruits appropriate to the age of the child and the season you are at this time. For details, I recommend reading the Complementary food Table for Baby and Children.You can give your child a single fruit or in combination with another one, at most two. Depending on the category they belong to, the fruits combine according to certain rules. The categories we classify are:

Classification of fruit

pineapple apples banana watermelon
strawberry mango dates melon
grapefruit apricots raisins cantaloup
lemon cranberries dried plums
sour apple cherries grapes
orange kiwi figs
sour plums papaya
blackberries peaches
raspberries sweet plums

Some rules to follow in the case of fruit consumption:

– fruits are eaten uncombined as separate tables;

– fruit consumption between meals is not recommended when the digestion of the previous meal is not over yet;

– fruit juices are treated as a whole meal;

– avoiding the combination of sweet fruits with acidic fruits;

– it is best for melons to be eaten separately, but they may eventually be combined with acidic or sub-acidic fruit.

But there are also some exceptions to these rules:

– avocados combine well with acidic and sub-acidic fruits;

– oilseeds (nuts, hazelnuts) and seeds, well-soaked or germinated, can be combined with fruit;

– dates are well combined with milk.

How do I offer fruits to my child?

To get the best from fruits, it is good to eat them raw. But in the case of a baby’s stomach, things are a little different. That is why, for the beginning, it is recommended to cook the fruits as well as vegetables. You can boil them, or you can bake them in the oven. The second method helps keep their savor so much, so I always preferred it.

The main reasons why I recommend the thermal preparation of fruits, at least in a first stage of diversification:

– the child’s stomach more easily digests food;

– Avoid bacterial contamination, intestinal parasite larvae, and chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides that can be found on raw fruits, especially if they are not very, very well washed.

Then, as your baby grows up and becomes accustomed to solid foods, you can give him raw, diced, sliced ​​or whole-sliced ​​fruit. Whatever method you choose, be sure the little ones will have fun by manipulating them.

And for the table to be more attractive and easier to accept by the child, you can carve out a figurine of apple slices or make a castle of banana slices.

Another quite controversial thing among pediatricians is the form under which fruit is offered: juice or whole. I have chosen to offer them whole to not deprive children of the fibers contained in the pulp of the fruit that helps their digestion process.


By the time we were “diversified,” the parents knew they would start with the cereal table. That’s because 30-40 years ago the infant obesity problem was unknown or encountered. Unfortunately, we now see and hear more often about children with weight problems. So the cereal meal is the last main meal in the day feeding a baby. What are the cereals that I can offer my child? Unfortunately, pharmacies and supermarkets have full shelves with colored boxes containing so-called baby cereals. Some of them even have powdered milk, so be careful if you choose to buy them from there. I admit I was not a big fan of these colorful boxes promoted so aggressively by the producing companies. So I have good news, there are much healthier alternatives.

Cereals are divided into two main categories:

– those containing gluten
– those without gluten

Due to the gluten intolerance that some children may develop, gluten-containing cereals can be fed after 8 months of age, and gluten-free cereals at the age of 6 months. However, given that the cereal mass is the last introduced, and diversification is a recommended process since the age of 6 months, you will get to enter the cereals around the age of 8 months, approximately. So the gluten problem is diminishing in the meantime. In Romania, the most popular are gluten grains: wheat, oats, rye, barley.

Gluten-free cereals are: rice, corn, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, amaranth. The latter, however, are used in few homes, the main reason being the lack of information for parents or pediatricians. But with my hand on my heart I tell you they are very good, easy to find and prepared.

At the end I selected some recipes with gluten-free cereals that are among the favorites of my little ones:

– Millet with banana
– Quinoa with apples and vanilla
– Quinoa with plums
– Apple with buds
– Avocado with buckwheat and dried fruit

Hope this continuing perfect complementary food scheme will help you!

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Constipation can be treated

Constipation does not just mean missing the seat for a while, but also eliminating it with difficulty. It is said that babies fed with powdered milk are prone to have intestinal transit problems because the milk formula is digesting harder. Instead, breastfeeding does not happen too often to constipation, breast milk is easily digestible, but may have problems with the onset of dietary diversification.

What are the causes of constipation?

– introduction of solid foods; babies are used to digging milk, and when solid foods get into the stomach, they digest them more slowly;

– lack of liquid from food; the baby needs hydration (if breast-fed, breast milk is sufficient, but if it is fed with milk powder, the doctor may also be offered water). Otherwise, the body absorbs water from ingested foods, and the stool becomes strong;

– changing the type of milk consumed;

– changing the program, the place where it stands; if we go on holiday, for example, the baby may have problems with intestinal transit;

–  medical problems; constipation can also be caused by allergies to various foods, metabolism problems. That’s why it’s good for the doctor to be consulted whenever we see changes to the little ones.

How do we realize that the baby is constipated?

Here are some signs:

– cry before they have a chair
– the seat is loud
– has less than 3 chairs per week
– has no appetite
– has a strong belly
– has no energy

How do we treat constipation?

We can prevent or treat constipation:

– By balancing the baby’s diet with high fiber foods, we offer more often pears, plums, apricots, peaches, broccoli, spinach (taking into account the age of the child and the diversification table);

– avoid bananas, rice, rice cereals;

– by moisturizing with water and fruit juices (apples or plums)

– by movement; we lift our knees to the chest, we do the “bicycle” or, if we go, we encourage him to take several steps

– by massaging the bustle clockwise

– put the baby on the pot / toilet (if he / she allows his / her age) more often, especially after eating

– in more serious cases, by medical treatment (laxatives, suppositories) prescribed by the doctor after a consultation.

Increased attention, a healthy diet, and a pediatrician consultation should solve the problems.


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Compote, fruits for longer

The compote originates in the 17th century France, where it served as a dessert. The same term was used for the blending of fruits in sugar syrup, but also for fruit puree. Today, it is probably the most loved can, especially because it can keep fruit that can not be frozen (grapes, for example) and is a faster preservation method than drying.

What kind of fruit can become compote?

Any kind of fruit, fresh or dried, in any combination, according to tastes.

Fruit preparation:

Fruit for the compote must be healthy, free of traces of marks and without altered parts. They wash well under cold water jet. Depending on your preference, you can choose to peel some fruits (apples, pears, quinces) to remove kernels (cherries, sour cherries, apricots, peaches) to cut them into smaller pieces or preserve them as such.

Preparing containers:

This is the most important part of the entire conservation process. Proper sterilization of the pots in which you keep the compote will make it possible to keep it for a long time, not the addition of sugar. The containers you choose for the compote must be very clean and tightly sealed.

The actual preparation of the preserving ingredient:

In the dishes washed and disinfected beforehand, put the choices for the compote. The amount of fruit depends on the proportion of fruit / juice you want. Then add water and spices to taste. If your child’s age allows, you can also add sugar according to your preferences. The vessel will not fill, but it will leave a space of two fingers to allow the liquid to boil.

The filled dishes, with the lid placed, are placed in a pot lined with rags or newspaper paper. The pot is filled to cover three-quarters of the pot compote and boils for 30 minutes from the moment it boils. Allow to cool itself, then label and store.

Storage and keeping:

The most suitable place to keep the compote is the pantry: a cool, dark and dry place. If space allows you, you can keep the compote in the freezer in plastic containers.

Good to know:

• To make sure that the lid thread is good, turn the container with the lid down on the work table. If the liquid flows past the lid, it means that it is not well threaded or defective.

• If the fruit in the compote floats above, and the syrup remains at the bottom of the bowl, the compote container will open and sterilize again, but for a longer time than the first time.

• Pomegranate fruits (sour cherries, apricots, peaches) will not be stored for more than a year, as they accumulate a very toxic substance – hydrogen cyanide.


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